Health authorities have ordered 200 people into self isolation as they await COVID-19 testing after Queensland confirmed three new cases linked to the Queensland Corrective Services Academy cluster.
The first case in the cluster was reported on Thursday, a man in his 60s who works as a trainer at the facility at Wacol. Authorities are yet to determine how he contracted the virus, but expect it could be linked to another outbreak at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, also at Wacol.
On Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the three new cases after 21,653 tests were carried out on Thursday.
Two of the new cases are based at Pimpama and one is from Forest Lake and all are aged in their 30s. None was identified as a close contact of the first case.
Originally, only 25 close contacts of the first case in the cluster were told to isolate and get tested, but on Friday the Corrective Services Commissioner admitted he had changed his tune.
All 200 people linked to the academy will now be tested after the close contacts initially flagged tested negative.On Thursday, a second group of 19 people was tested, including two of the cases confirmed on Friday.
Six of those 19 results had come back negative, with health authorities awaiting the outcome of the remainder.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the two cases from Pimpama had likely contracted the virus while in the dining room, whereas the Forest Lake case had only been at the academy for a training course.
Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin said the academy was taking “abundant caution.”
“One new case is a 33-year-old female recruit who lives at Pimpama, the second is a 37-year-old recruit living in the same suburb, and they have a close working relationship… including car pooling together,” Mr Martin said.
“A fourth case is a 33-year-old male, he was at the academy attending a course. We are making urgent inquiries as to others he may have been in contact with.
“We’re incredibly confident we’re doing all we can to get to the bottom of this outbreak.
“Whether they are staff or recruits, if anyone has come to the academy for a course, we have expanded testing.”
Dr Young said she was concerned about widespread community transmission that could potentially be going undetected.
“There’s a lot of work to go through here,” she said.
It comes as the annual Schoolies has been axed, prompting Dr Young to sympathise with year 12 graduates.
Dr Young said authorities were still trying to find the source of this latest cluster, most likely it is connected to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster that emerged earlier this week.
For now, Dr Young said the two clusters were being treated as separate outbreaks.
While the trainer works at Wacol and lives in Forest Lake, suburbs that already have positive cases linked to the cluster, there is no “clear link” between them.
As a result, 7000 prisoners are in lockdown throughout the state as a “precautionary measure”.
Dr Young also said genomic testing had failed to reach a conclusive finding as to whether the strain of virus in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster was the same as the one brought up from Melbourne by two women who allegedly breached border protocols last month.
Both clusters have been linked to the B.1.1.25 lineage of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with just one molecule difference in genetic sequencing between the two outbreaks.
“The problem is, there’s lots of other samples out there that are exactly the same and we know it’s the most frequent lineage that’s circulating in NSW and Victoria,” Dr Young said.
“We can’t say definitively that those two cases are linked but we can’t say they’re not.“
It comes as seven new locations were added to Queensland Health’s contact tracing alert, including:
- August 16, 4pm-4.10pm: Puma Fuel, Wacol
- August 22, 10.30am-10.45am: Petbarn, Browns Plains
- August 22, 10.45am-11.15am: Bunnings, Browns Plains
- August 22, 11.15am-11.35am: The Good Guys, Browns Plains
- August 23, 5pm-5.15pm” Coles at Forest Lake Shopping Centre
- August 24, 9am-9.45am: The Good Guys, Oxley
- August 24, 10am-10.30am: Woolworths at the Station, Oxley.